Free cricket betting preview and tips: New Zealand v England at the Bay Oval

A new era for Joe Root's England side
A new era for Joe Root's England side

England begin their two-match Test series against New Zealand on Wednesday - read Richard Mann's preview here.

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2pts Neil Wanger top New Zealand series bowler at 7/1

2pts BJ Watling top New Zealand series batsman at 12/1


Mount Maunganui will be the backdrop for English cricket's latest new dawn, as Chris Silverwood's tenure as head coach begins with the opening Test of a two-match series against New Zealand, which gets under way at the Bay Oval on Wednesday evening.

After a hard-fought drawn Ashes last summer, England securing a series-levelling victory in the final Test at The Oval, hopes are high that Joe Root's side are finally heading in the right direction in this form of the game having previously seen limited-overs cricket as their priority in the build up to that famous World Cup 2019 success.

Silverwood has already spoken of his desire to refocus attention on Test cricket as England map a route to the 2020/2021 Ashes in Australia, a clear signal of intent from director of cricket Ashley Giles.

Chris Silverwood
Chris Silverwood

Jofra Archer's sparkling emergence on the international cricket scene has given England some much-needed firepower to accompany their highly-skilled swing and seam bowling attack while Ben Stokes continues provide the luxury of a world-class all-rounder.

The batting, for so long England's strength against the white ball but its weakness in Test cricket, finally looks to be heading in the right direction too with Rory Burns and Joe Denly ending the Ashes with their reputations enhanced and Dom Sibley set to make his debut in a line-up far more settled than in recent years.

Whether a sign of weakness or pragmatism, Root's move back down to number four promises to return him to somewhere near his best following a relatively quiet spell that has seen him fall further behind the likes of Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson in the battle to be the number one batsman in the world.

With Stokes maturing all the time and Jos Buttler looking a better fit than Jonny Bairstow with the gloves, England can be optimistic that both Sibley and Ollie Pope come into an environment that gives them the best possible chance of making a success of their maiden tours.

Nevertheless, the very fact that England are choosing to blood so much youth in this series illustrates that this side has been selected very much with future targets in mind and as such, it may be unwise to expect too much against an outfit as well drilled as this New Zealand one.

New Zealand just about edge series favouritism at 15/8 with the draw and England victory in close pursuit and on balance, the market appears to have it right, for all a two-match series tempers enthusiasm for an outright bet.

Winter cricket betting preview
Click on the image to read Richard Mann's winter cricket betting preview

England have't claimed series victory in New Zealand since 2008, with Trent Boult and Tim Southee swinging the hosts to victory when these two sides last met on these shores in early 2018.

Boult finished that series as Player of the Series and he will prove a key threat to England's batting line-up again, his ability to bring the ball back into the right-handers likely to cause the likes of Denly and Root, in particular, plenty of problems.

Both can be big LBW candidates and are sure to be on Boult's radar while the possible inclusion of Lockie Ferguson means New Zealand can fight fire with fire when it comes to Archer's pace and aggression.

Ferguson has become a key man in New Zealand's white-ball set-up and should he get his opportunity in the next few weeks, possibly in the second Test, he is sure to add another fascinating dimension to the series.

However, expect New Zealand to stick with the tried and tested pace trio of Boult, Southee and Wagner for now and the latter looks worth a bet in the top New Zealand series bowler market.

Wagner, a wholehearted, tireless operator, has become one of the key components of the New Zealand's Test outfit over the past two years and his most recent outing for the Black Caps saw him pick up nine wickets against Bangladesh in March.

Neil Wagner is applauded off the field
Neil Wagner is applauded off the field

Wagner's sharp left-arm pace and awkward bouncer makes him a real handful, particularly when pitches flatten out, and his happy knack of picking up wickets has seen him claim 44 scalps in 10 matches since the beginning of 2017 at an impressive average of 23.4.

Don't be surprised to see him pepper England with the short ball in the middle overs and should he get a look at the lower order, they can expect the same sort of medicine Pat Cummins dished out last summer, for all he doesn't possess quite the same pace as the Australian or indeed Archer.

Nevertheless, he continues to prove mighty effective and the 7/1 available for him to finish the series as New Zealand's leading wicket-taker is plain wrong.

The top England bowler market offers no such gifts with Archer priced correctly at 15/8 but the top New Zealand series batsman market is much more appealing.

As expected, the betting is dominated by Kiwi skipper Williamson but despite his unquestionable brilliance, I'm not overly keen to take 2/1 about a player who has had very little cricket of late due to an ongoing hip niggle - he only managed 26 in his last first-class appearance when turning out for Northern Districts a month ago.

A wonderful player with a Test average well in excess of 50, Williamson could easily hit the ground running now fit again but a two-match series gives him little room for manoeuvre and I can't resist taking him on with the criminally underrated BJ Watling.

BJ Watling
BJ Watling

Watling is a veteran of 63 Tests now, a man for a crisis whose glovework behind the stumps by no means overshadows his classy batting, a healthy mix of rock-solid defence and pugnacious attack making him one of the best wicket-keeper/batsmen in the world.

A defiant unbeaten century drove New Zealand to a famous victory in Colombo as recently as August, more than justifying his move up to number six in the order, and Watling's record against England - 518 runs at 43.16 - is most impressive.

With Archer and Stuart Broad sure to test a New Zealand opening pair that features two left-handers, and Williamson short of cricket, Watling looks well worth a play at 12/1.

Posted at 1625 GMT on 18/11/19.

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